For some, Valentine’s Day is an occasion to cosy up with a loved one and celebrate your relationship together. If you didn't spend Valentine’s Day with a cherished partner though, the day might be a painful reminder of how difficult finding a good relationship can be.
Despite the popularity of dating apps these days, many people find modern matchmaking techniques more than a tad depressing. The queer friendly dating app Taimi has taken extra steps to make sure its users are safe, when dating is getting them down.
Taimi is a social media and dating app that was created first for gay men, but has expanded to suit the needs of the whole LGBTQ+ community. With over 12 million queer users, Taimi has recognised that it is connecting with a huge number of potentially vulnerable people.
A recent survey by the app revealed that 67.2% of users had felt depressed while using dating apps, and 48.6% have experienced suicidal thoughts. These findings are consistent with mental health research by LGBTQ+ charity Stonewall, that points to increased rates of depression and suicidal ideation in the queer community, at least in part due to discrimination in society.
Looking specifically at how Valentine’s Day affects the queer community, Taimi found that 42.3% of users were “irritated” by the day and that 49.5% found the occasion made them feel “lonelier or more depressed”.
Appreciating the severity of these figures, Taimi has installed a support team of people ready to step in and help with users feeling overwhelmed while on the app.
Tetiana Lavrichenko is a support team lead for Taimi. At first, she interacted with Taimi’s users to help them with technical issues, but as messages increasingly came through from people in crisis, it was clear Lavrichenko’s duties had bigger responsibilities. “That's how we ended up with suicide prevention training for our team members,” she says.
A suicide hotline gave the tech support team a month of training in their experience helping suicidal youths.
“My main takeaway from the training was listening, being with the person, listening to the person tell you their issues, and see what they think,” Lavrichenko explains. Although many users are from the US, Taimi has users worldwide who may not be able to openly discuss their identity with their family or friends. “Our main task is to listen to these users to show that they are not alone.”
It’s a big burden to put on the support team. The UK charity Samaritans operates a hotline specifically for people dealing with mental health issues and suicidal thoughts, but the training system for Samaritan volunteers includes up to 10 sessions with continual support for those answering the calls.
Taimi hasn’t reached the scale where all this is possible yet, but it has created a support network within the company for team members to share their feelings. “We do have this communication system otherwise it would be very unfair to leave our agents without people to speak to after they deal with all the information they hear,” Lavrichenko adds.
Compared with other dating apps, the support that Taimi has created for its users is unprecedented. None of the other major apps like Tinder or Bumble offer a similar service. On Taimi, 60% of users get a first response from a real person within one minute of messaging support.
It’s an impressive step for a dating app, and an especially needed one for a community that can find days like Valentine’s more difficult than most.